The Islamic Republic of Mauritania is situated in the Sahara in Northwest Africa, bordered by Algeria, Mali, Senegal, Western Sahara, and the Atlantic Ocean. With the Sahara Desert taking up a substantial part of the country’s land, Mauritania experiences drought throughout the year.
Despite its abundant supply of natural resources and its extensive reserves of iron ore that account for about 40% of the exporting revenue, Mauritania is among the poor desert countries. Its economy depends on agriculture and livestock. Its oceans are among the world’s richest fishing zones but are threatened by overexploitation. In 1986, Mauritania opened its first deepwater port.
In early 2000, the country qualified for the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries debt relief initiative that canceled almost all of its foreign debts. In 2001, a new investment program was approved, making way for direct foreign investments. The nation achieved considerable development through its 3-year Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility agreement with the IMF in 2006. However, because of the 2008 coup, assistance and investments from international financial institutions such as the IMF and World Bank were put on hold.
Mauritania’s national currency is the ouguiya which was established on May 30, 1973. As currently a part of the Arab world and a French colony in the past, Mauritanian banknotes have an Arabic text on the obverse and French on the reverse. The 1973 banknote issues were lithographed and bear a watermark that reveals a young girl’s face when held up to a light source. The watermark design of the 1974 issues reflects an image of a wise, old Mauritanian man.
On December 5, 2017, the ouguiya was redenominated and a new set of banknotes were introduced, printed in a polymer. Common design elements of these paper bills printed by the Canadian Bank Note Company are a mosque, a star and a crescent moon, and an open book.